Fathers and Sons
by Ivan Turgenev
Fathers and Sons Chapter 26 Summary
- Katya goes and sits alone in the portico. Before he died, Monsieur Odintsov had intended to surround the portico with Greek statues. The only one that was put in, though, was the Goddess of Silence, and shortly after she was installed some farm boys knocked off her nose.
- Katya often sits there reading and doing her embroidery, "abandoning herself to that sensation of absolute peace with which we are probably all familiar and the charm of which lies in a half-conscious hushed contemplation of the vast current of life that is for ever swirling in and around us" (26.1).
- After talking with Bazarov, Anna Sergeyevna warned Katya to more careful around Arkady, to avoid the long solitary talks they often have.
- Today, though, Arkady has invited her to the portico. She goes with him, telling herself that it is the last time.
- As they sit there, Arkady tells her that, as much as they have talked, there is one thing that he has wanted to say to her but has not been able to. He tells her that the transformation she has observed in him is entirely due to her.
- Arkady says that when he first arrived he was conceited, that he wanted to pursue an ideal and yet he didn't know what he was searching for. He tells her that now he knows because he is in the grip of a certain emotion.
- Katya stops looking at him. Arkady goes on and says that a man must be honest with the people who are dear to him. Katya seems not to know what he is leading up to and yet also to be expecting something.
- Arkady begins stammering. He says that the other day Katya accused him of not being serious, but that by that point he had ceased to deserve it. He is about to make his proposal when they hear Anna Sergeyevna's voice.
- Arkady falls silent and Katya goes pale. Anna Sergeyevna is walking with Bazarov beside the portico.
- She tells him that it is true that they both became interested in each other, but that things petered out. Yet she thinks that things may be different with Arkady. Though she is old enough to be his aunt, she admits to Bazarov that she thinks of him more and more often.
- Bazarov is clearly steaming, and remarks that when a woman as old as she is interested in someone like Arkady it is more akin to "fascination" (26.18).
- Anna Sergeyevna thinks that Arkady is like a brother to Katya, but that perhaps she has let them get too close. Bazarov sarcastically wonders if it is sisterly concern that prompts her worry.
- They begin to walk on, and Anna Sergeyevna says that, though she is afraid of Bazarov, she trusts him because at heart he is a good man.
- Bazarov protests that he is far from a good man, and that the only reason she thinks this is because she is no longer interested in him, "It's like laying a wreath of flowers at a corpse's head" (26.122).
- For the most part, the rest of their words are carried away by the wind, though one can hear Bazarov tell Anna Sergeyevna that she is free.
- Arkady turns to Katya with renewed courage. He tells her that he loves her passionately and that he wants to marry her, and that ever since they have become close "everything else has long ago melted into thin air without a trace" (26.126).
- After a long pause, Katya says yes. Arkady jumps up from the bench in joy, but then wants to clarify that he understands her.
- When she says yes again, he knows that she has agreed. He is ecstatic, and she begins to cry.
- The narrator says, "No one who has not seen such tears in the eyes of his beloved knows the degree of happiness attainable on this earth, as the heart swoons with thankfulness and awe" (26.130).
- The next morning, Anna Sergeyevna asks Bazarov to come to her study. When he gets there, she shows him a letter from Arkady asking for Katya's hand in marriage.
- She laughs, but it is strained. Bazarov also laughs, though he can barely "hide the malicious pleasure which instantly flared in his breast" (26.132).
- Anna Sergeyevna asks him what she should do, and he says that she must give them her blessing.
- She agrees, though she says that she will wait for Nikolai's response. She thinks that she and Bazarov really must be too old not to have noticed what was going on.
- Bazarov tells her "Young folk are very artful these days," and quickly bids her goodbye (26.139).
- Anna Sergeyevna begs him to stay, saying "Talking to you is like walking on the edge of a precipice. At first one is frightened, then one picks up courage. Do stay" (26.141).
- Bazarov thanks her, but says that he has been too long out of his natural element and that it is time for him to return.
- Looking at him, Anna Sergeyevna sees the pained expression on his face. Remembering that he loved her, she feels sorry for him and offers him her hand. He refuses her charity and says goodbye.
- When she tells him that surely they will meet again, he says, "Anything can happen in this world," and leaves the room (26.147).
- Bazarov goes to visit Arkady and congratulates him on building a nest. He asks him why he was so secretive about it, and Arkady says he had no idea what would happen when he left Maryino.
- Arkady wonders why Bazarov is congratulating him when they both know what he thinks of marriage.
- Bazarov tells him that he is simply feeling a void. He says that this is the right decision for Arkady because "There's no audacity in you, no venom" (26.150).
- Bazarov thinks that the gentry can only go so far and no further. He says that for those who insist on fighting, "Our dust would corrode your eyes, our mud would sully you, but in actual fact you aren't up to our level yet, you unconsciously admire yourself, you enjoy finding fault with yourself; but we've had enough of all that – give us fresh victims" (26.150).
- Arkady is sad that this is all Bazarov has to say to him at their parting.
- Bazarov admits that he could say other things, but that they'd be sentimental. He tells Arkady to hurry up and get married and have children.
- Arkady embraces his friend and mentor, and nearly begins crying.
- Bazarov tells him to have no worries because Katya will soon console him.
- When Bazarov climbs into his carriage, he points to two jackdaw birds sitting next to each other on the roof. He tells Arkady that the jackdaw is the most respectable of birds and to let it be an example for him.
- With that, Bazarov's wagon moves away.
- Bazarov is right. That night, talking with Katya, Arkady quickly forgets Bazarov. Anna Sergeyevna keeps them company only for the sake of propriety.
- She keeps the princess out of the way, knowing that the wedding would infuriate her.
- At first, Anna is worried that the sight of the happy couple will upset her, but she finds that it actually just makes her extremely happy.
- She thinks that Bazarov was right, that all was just curiosity and egotism.
- She asks Katya and Arkady to tell her whether "love is an imaginary feeling" (26.161).
- They don't know what she is talking about, and cannot forget the conversation they overheard between her and Bazarov.
- Soon, however, their minds are set at rest, as is Anna Sergeyevna's.
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